What opportunities does Mobile IP offer WISPs?

In my recent article regarding the implementation of a MIP solution with Mikrotik RouterOS clients, I described some of the issues surrounding the a MIP solution as well as some of the solutions.  This article generated quite a bit of response and I wanted to take the time to now offer some business ideas for how this can be useful to WISPs.

There are many things that are technically possible, but those that can use these services are often unaware that they are available.  Because of this, many municipalities are not actively seeking these solutions.  For the city government, this type of solution can save a LOT of money.  Most cities are paying for cellular service for their police departments.  The cost savings of creating an internal voip solution using the MIP idea can save enough to get the attention of most city governments.  This is especially true of smaller cities and towns.

I have found that once you have the attention of the cities, it is not difficult to sell the other benefits of a city owned network.  I won’t list them all here again (you can read the other article to get some of the possibilities), but I will say that many of the services that are possible are quite unique and useful to the cities.  The best part of this type of solution for these municipal governments is that much of the cost of building the network can be done with grant money from the US Department of Homeland Security.  You can find information on the DHS Website regarding these grants.

You may be saying, “So what?  How does this help me?”.  There are many reasons that building this type of network is useful, but I will discuss just a few of them.  The most important thing to remember about the idea I presented in the other article is that the client devices generally use very low gain mobile antennas.  Because of this, the available AP density must be very high.  In other words, there has to be a LOT of RF coverage in order for these clients to be able to stay connected.  The other thing to remember is that the higher frequencies are usually not the best choices for good coverage.  The 4.9GHz band, which is reserved for emergency services use, is not a good band to use for mobile coverage, since this high of a frequency requires very good line of sight to be useful.  It is the combination of these 2 realities that provides some of the usefulness we will discuss here.

As a WISP, you are very likely to already have some coverage in most cities in your area.  It is also likely to be true that you don’t have anywhere close to 100% coverage in most of these localities.  This gives you several areas in which you, as a WISP, can leverage your portion of the network for providing service as well as negotiate the ability to utilize unused bandwidth on the APs that (will) belong to the municipality.  The other thing to bear in mind is that these municipalities rarely have the ability to properly maintain the network that you help them install.  These 2 things, taken together, give you a unique opportunity to help the city as well as your own network reach.  You can, for instance, provide internet bandwidth to the city’s towers. This is one source of revenue.  Another idea would be to negotiate with the city to manage their network and, at the same time, negotiate the ability to utilize the unused bandwidth.  If you negotiate carefully, you can potentially be in a situation that makes it easy for you to afford the access and build a barrier to entry for other local service providers.  Even if competitors do use the tower bandwidth, you still are managing the network, and you have a revenue stream from that.

There are other ways I’ve seen WISPs create revenues from the building of these networks.  If you have questions or are interested, by all means give me a call or drop an email.  My contact information can be found here.

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